Writing a poem about her late brother's battle with cancer was a positive experience for Farmborough Road Public School teacher Julie Suey.
It also struck a chord with Red Room Poetry Object competition judges.
Her poem titled 'My Brother', was judged one of the People's Choice winners in the competition which received almost 2500 entries from students and teachers across Australia and New Zealand.
Ms Suey said writing the poem helped her and her family during a difficult time.
"But I was also inspired to write the poem because my students were taking part in a poetry workshop," she said.
"The poem was about my brother who passed away over 12 months ago. It was about staying strong despite going through what my family and I had to go through.
"It focused on keeping the memories and staying strong and getting through those hard times.
"He was 52 when he passed away."
Ms Suey wasn't the only person from Farmborough Road Public School who excelled in the competition.
Year 6 student Daniel Pearce-Carey was highly commended for his poem 'Didgeridoo'.
"Our school motto is to inspire a community of learners. This competition was perfect for that as the kids had an opportunity to do it, as did the teachers," Ms Suey said. "We had a wonderful experience.
"Local author Kirli Saunders worked with the children to create poetry about their experiences. She did a wonderful workshop with our students."
Peter Ramm, the other Illawarra teacher who did well, is no stranger to Red Room Poetry Object competition success.
The Cedars Christian College teacher took first prize in the teacher category in 2017.
His award-winning poem Canvas, reflected on his battle with rheumatoid arthritis and his love of boxing.
Mr Ramm won the same award in 2019 for his poem 'Moon Song'.
He said participating in the Red Room Poetry Object reignited a love of language and writing.
"In 2016, when I first stumbled on the competition, I thought it was a great opportunity to share the writing activity with the students. It was a rewarding experience to work through the process with them and share the journey of composing a poem," Mr Ramm said.
"The students had a lot of fun that first year and so did I. Since then, I've continued writing and dived into my love of poetry.
"It's a passion that feeds my creativity, but also pays back into my teaching."
His award-winning poem touches on a vivid memory of a moment with his two-year-old son.
"We were going inside for story-time when he was struck by the beauty of the moon - it was bright, new and hanging right above our house," Mr Ramm said.
"He wanted to know if the moon was going to sleep soon and thought we should sing her a song.
"For me, it was a moment of pure innocence and joy in the wonder of a child's mind. One of those times you forget about everything else as a parent and want to just soak up each second."